I’ve been working on my novel on and off for a few years now. I write long hand for the most part so I’ve filled many a notebook. Every few months I reconnect with my work in progress, make some tweaks, write a couple of thousand words. And then I get stuck. So I put it down for a while. Fast forward 12 weeks and the whole cycle starts again.
Determined to break my bad habits, I signed up for Penguin’s Overcoming Writers Block Webinar with best-selling author Guy Manikowski. I took seven pages of notes in all and came away feeling enthused and inspired.
A week on, I distilled my learnings like one of those fancy studies accounts on Insta. And I’ve even started to put them into practice. Here are five of my highlights for all you writers out there. And yes – a fair few of them involve notebooks!
1. Make a robust plan
I know that writers tend to fall into two camps. Nanowrimo calls them planners and pantsers. Most of us are somewhere between the two I think. My usual method is to write until I run out of steam and need to take a step back and understand plot and characters but at some point, all writers needs to work out where the novel is going so why not start they way you mean to go on.
2. Keep a dream journal
I often dream of novel ideas and for the ten seconds after I wake up they feel crystal clear and Booker worthy. But then they fade away. Try keeping a notebook by your bed and writing down what you dreamed of as soon as you wake up. It’s a little like morning pages I suppose.
3. Organise your writing space
I tend to write anywhere and everywhere. I carry my notebook on the off-chance that the perfect scene will come to me. It never does by the way. I thought this was part of me making writing part of my life, but actually it highlights that I have no dedicated writing time. Discipline will help after the first burst of enthusiasm has worn off so for the next few weeks I’m going to write everyday at the same time in the same place. Even if it’s just for half an hour.
4. Avoid distractions
I’m easily distracted when it comes to my writing. And so I try to create the optimum moment. This is a list of some of the things I think I need to do before I can tackle my next scene.
– make/eat dinner
– write my next blog post
– tidy my craft room
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the webinar. And think I understand the issue. I still see writing as an indulgence rather than a priority. I’m also guilty of thinking that the optimum time will lead to inspiration. Similar to the point on discipline above I suppose. If it’s important, it needs scheduling.
5. Keep the end in sight
I love the idea of visualising a final outcome to help keep up momentum. Mine is walking into Waterstones and finding a table dedicated to my book and the novels that have influenced it. Keep your writing dream front of mind. Or better yet, write it down. It makes it feel much more attainable I think.